Before getting into it, if you have any ideas on preparing an RV for a lengthy tour, please leave a message or a URL to your blog. Anything that helps is, well, a help,
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the closing of Gander Mountain. It’s finally down to the last week of our local store, and I’ve taken full advantage of it. I’ve purchased waterproof hiking boots, steel toe boots and comfortable cold weather clothing. We are again making a fall trip to the Northern United States. By the way, those Lacrosse boots I linked to are awesome goodness, comfortable safety boots. I think I got them for an unheard of $56.
I am personally ready for the trip. In fact, I think I’m packed already. Now I have to prepare the RV. For that effort, I’m calling upon our dealership to check out the vehicle. They have a deal: three services and you get one free. It’s going to wind up being about $350 – $400 (!) I’m wondering about the true value of the services, because all appears well right now.
The air conditioner check is mandatory, because you can’t RV in Texas without a/c. Well, you can but life will absolutely suck in a hot ass box. It’s possible if you are one of those restaurant patio dwellers; the people who eat outside when it’s 98 degrees and bugs flying everywhere, when it’s cool, bug-free and empty inside. One of my colleagues says no a/c isn’t too bad. He’s making it up. It’s essential for us southern dwellers.
Next is the furnace. If you are going north in Fall, you should have a working furnace … or a lot of blankets and sleeping bags. When we went to Yellowstone, the temperatures dropped into the 20’s our first night. We had heard RV’s don’t use much propane. We found out that was false, ours went through the remainder of our 1st can that night. It was 52 degrees in our trailer that morning. My menopausal wife was like, oh, this is great! No it wasn’t. Seeing your breath in your trailer is not great! The propane isn’t a big deal, but our center vent in the floor blows no air. Never has, including last year when we had it checked. We need to figure it out, whether it’s a fault or we don’t know how to make it work.
Roof patching: A critical issue with RVs is the roof and the potential for leaks. We keep ours parked underneath a roof so we wouldn’t know whether it leaked until we took it on a trip and it rained. So the dealer will look at the roof and patch it if they see a potential leak.
Water heater: the water heater is about the last problem you want on a trip. In fact, I created a problem when I didn’t turn the cold water valve after I sanitized the water system. An icy shower changes your mind about a lot of things in a hurry. A clean and operational water heater is a necessity, especially if you cook your own meals.
One option for us is a refrigerator check, but I think we will pass this time. We haven’t had much of a problem with the refrigerator, plus we carry a Pelican cooler. I should mention this: Pelican coolers IMHO are better than Yetis. The military uses Pelican equipment downrange (AFG, Iraq). They are tough as hell and made in the USA. They are not cheap and they are not lightweight, but they are as good as I could find.
One thing I thought about was ICE. I do not use ice in our cooler, I use ice packs.
Tundra ice pack
While these babies do not get down into every crevice, they are colder than ice. These Tundra ice packs are at 5 degrees. Ice packs are much less messy and you can reuse them. In fact you can use your freezer to re-freeze the ice packs. No ice water to pour out at the end of a trip, and it’s easier to clean out the cooler. Good ice packs are not cheap either. You get what you pay for, though. We bought cheap $2 ice packs and after a couple of uses, some kind of goo was coming out of a couple of them.
A second option for us is packing wheel bearings. I spoke to a RV service manager near us. He told us they would do the work but it would be unnecessary unless we had been traveling in the 80-100,000 mile range. We have travelled closer to 8,000 miles. So we’ll pass on that.
Tire checks are mandatory. I run the trailer by Discount Tire for a pressure check and tire inspection no more than three days before departure. What they do is cursory but gives us a feeling of security. If there is a problem, they will replace the tire. I’m never going to say this for sure helps us but I think it does: Never inflate the tires to the maximum air pressure or you will have problems. I underinflate them by about 10 percent. The tires typically will heat up due to road friction; if they are already at the max … expect problems. You don’t want to get into the engineering of the tires and “red lines.” Especially RV tires since they are cheap Chinese tires anyway. If Michelin made tires for my RV I would buy a set immediately.
I used to seriously baby the tires before we put the RV under the roof. I used to drive my RV onto some wood boards to get them up off the asphalt. My theory is, this kept the tires from getting heated up and weakened by sitting in the same place for long periods of time. A colleague stated RV tires are engineered for sitting but what I was doing was smart because of moisture. Water is the enemy of tires. By getting the tires off the asphalt, it prevented lengthy exposure to water when it rains. That’s something I should resume doing.
Always check your lights before departure. Due to military service, I always do light and brake checks on the tow vehicle and RV while we are at home.
One of my colleagues noticed a turn signal on his RV didn’t work, so he replaced the bulb. It still didn’t work so he started spark chasing. After determining his RV lights worked, he found his tow vehicle (Ram 1500) has a separate circuit for the trailer lights and it had blown a fuse. The turn signal on the truck still worked but not the one powering the RV turn signal. Easy fix, but not so easy to resolve.
Again, if you have any helpful tips, I’d certainly appreciate them.